La Ronda Update: The Cries for Preservation

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carla's picture
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Eleventh-hour push to save La Ronda
Published: Wednesday, May 13, 2009
By Cheryl Allison
Main Line Times

Floridians write in: Save La Ronda, please!
Published: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

As promised from last night:

The Cries for Preservation

..... I am sitting here watching the meeting on TV, and not there. I decided if I wanted to "blog live", I would be able to.

The speakers have been moving, and truthfully, I am sad about La Ronda. I have no idea if I went to the meeting and said that if it would mean a hill of spit.

I guess I still can't get my head wrapped around the fact that I grow frustrated with these things for the simple fact that I still do not understand WHY historic preservation is more REACTIVE than PROACTIVE? Why does everything get acted on in crisis? Will July 16th be the death date of this mansion?

The first speaker this evening was Joe Kuhls, an attorney I admire, who is unfortunately in this instance, representing the current owner of La Ronda. He remarked that preservation of this property was spoken about between 1996 and 1998? And that it has been available since 2000 for preservation? And to be moved from Class 2 to Class 1?

Why is historic preservation more reactive than proactive?

The house is obviously packed. WPVI and who knows who else is there.

Dr. Karen Nagel spoke about La Ronda - this is the only surviving Addison Mizner house in the Northeast? His last commission (built 1929) before his 1933 death?

Hello? Why have we waited so long?

Martin Pilch spoke eloquently, Lori Salgonicoff was magnificant as was SAC's own Jeff Levine.

Even Preservation Alliance and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is there. Anita someone from the National Trust remarked about how "communities get caught off guard".

Charles Dagit a Lower Merion resident and architect actually cried over La Ronda. He spoke of all the Frank Furness buildings that were torn down. "We can't tear everything down" he cried.

Evelyn Yaari from the Barnes Friends spoke in a most moving matter.

A pair of women from Haverford Township spoke about La Ronda - their dad had done some electrical work or something there.

The hearts are willing, so why are we all so slow?

Why is it we don't want to save things until they are faced with destruction?

Honestly, would I love to see La Ronda preserved. But will she live?

How hard can you all pray, how swiftly can a community act? Who has a few million laying about? (Of couse, this would be pocket change for say Lenfest, or Jeffrey Lurie, right?)

So now the eyes and Nancy Drew sleuthing abilities of everyone will undoubtedly turn to discovering the owners. If the price is right, will they sell?

I don't know. Thoughts on La Ronda are welcome, and here is what I have found on the web today:

Preservation Alliance: Local Addison Mizner Landmark to be Demolished?
- You can make a difference now -

What YOU can do NOW:
- Ask the Commissioners of Lower Merion to grant a 90-day stay of
demolition and to explore legal means to give La Ronda Class I protection.
Attend the May 13 meeting of the Board of Commissioners or write to*:
o Elizabeth Rogan, Chair, Building and Planning Committee
Board of Commissioners, Township of Lower Merion
75 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, PA 19003 or

*Send with a cover letter addressed to Eileen Trainer, Township Secretary,
( ) and ask her to make copies for the full Board of
Commissioners.

- Write letters to the editor of the Main Line Times supporting
preservation of La Ronda. Contact:
o Main Line Times, 311 East Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, PA 19003 or
or Editorial: 610-642-9704

- Contact the owners’ representative to ask the owners to halt plans for
demolition, re-consider rehabilitating La Ronda for residential use, or sell the
property to a preservation-minded buyer. Contact:
o Joseph C. Kuhls, Esq., Dischell Bartle Yanoff Dooley
PO Box 107, 1800 Pennbrook Parkway, Suite 200
Lansdale, PA 19446

Or to the Partnership’s controlling partner:
o Paul W. Baskowsky, Esq. , Saul Ewing
Centre Square West, 1500 Market Street, 38th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102-2186
Phone: 215.972.7737; fax: 215.972.1818 ; or

Posted on Thu, May. 14, 2009
Lower Merion puts off demolition of 1929 mansion.
By Bonnie L. Cook
Inquirer Staff Writer

A Lower Merion Township panel put off a decision last night about whether to recommend demolishing La Ronda, the Spanish Gothic villa in Bryn Mawr designed in 1929 by Addison Mizner.

By delaying a vote until June 3, the Building and Planning Committee of the Board of Commissioners bought some time to consider what will happen to the 17,000-square-foot mansion.

Commissioner Philip S. Rosenzweig exhorted the public to come forward to form a public-private partnership to save the building.

"We need all of you to help us in that effort," he said. "La Ronda deserves to be preserved if we can see it through."

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carla's picture
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It seems they all know who the new owner is of La Ronda, only it seems everyone is afraid to say the names? So if they followed a guy to his office and guy is playing 5-O with a reporter, makes you wonder if they have their owner, doesn't it? The owner only creates more havoc for themselves by NOT coming forward, don't they? And isn't everyone hearing the same names?

I look at it this way, if they are resolute in their decision to tear down this house, why hide? It's not going to change public opinion is it? If they are sure they are doing the right thing and all, right? After all are they going to go in and out of their new house when it gets built like Michael Jackson going outside or what?

it just seems to me that private owners building a new home to LIVE in NOT FLIP, proably would NOT hide behind a LLC?

Posted on Sat, May. 23, 2009
Time is running out for La Ronda in Bryn Mawr
By Derrick Nunnally
Inquirer Staff Writer

In its 80 years, the La Ronda mansion in Bryn Mawr has gone from being a millionaire's palatial home to the subject of an intense debate over its planned demolition by new owners.

It also has spawned a mystery: Who, exactly, owns the place?

Someone paid $6 million in cash to buy the estate in March, using a corporate front. Then, through an attorney, the buyer applied for permission to raze the castlelike, 21-bedroom villa.

With Lower Merion Township nearing a deadline on whether to allow the demolition, neighbors, preservationists, and officials have made the question of its owner an open-ended game of speculation.....Township officials said they had heard only of possible names.

"It's not a way to get off to a good start with the neighbors," Taylor said. "They'll become a pariah to the community."

This week, Kuhls said only that there were several owners. "We are not disclosing their names at this time," he said.

The name of a possible La Ronda owner was passed to a reporter, but efforts to get him to talk have gone nowhere.

At the man's office in Conshohocken, he ducked behind a building column in the lobby when a reporter approached, then hurried up a stairway and into an elevator back down to his office. He did not return calls.

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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According to a blog posting in today's Philly.com article, the new owner is Tony Rufo Sr. More confirmation than this is probably needed.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/20090527_Lower_Merion_officials_raising_funds_to_try_to_save_La_Ronda.html

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carla's picture
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NO WAY. As in River Road-I-can't-pay-for-the-sewer-I-wanted-Rufo? As in Haverford School Rufo?

Here's the comment:

Posted by tonyrufo 03:47 AM, 05/27/2009
My dad, Tony Rufo Sr, of RufoProperties.com bought this house, and originally it was a secret, but not anymore. The house would cost too much to renovate, and his new construction houses are the nicest on the Main Line. He has 6 amazing ones on River Road in Gladwyne.

(To be honest, had not heard this name in particular)

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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